“Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” – John 13:1-5
What names come to mind when you think of greatness? Perhaps it’s a talented celebrity or renowned athlete; maybe it’s a successful professional or researcher. Society tends to bestow the term great upon individuals who have extraordinary talent and an incredible work ethic, which often leads to extraordinary accomplishments. But the Word of God is very clear that God evaluates greatness from a very different perspective.
Greatness – according to God – comes down to one word: service. In other words, true greatness is taking a posture of service towards others (in our community, society, the world) and within the body of Christ (the Church).
Jesus exemplified God’s definition of greatness over and over again. Let’s look at one particular example during Passover. Jesus had gathered with His disciples – the men Jesus had poured His life into over the course of three years. Jesus cared very deeply for these guys, and yet, in this moment, He was incredibly burdened. Why? Because Jesus knew that His death on the cross was right around the corner.
Suddenly, in the middle of dinner, Jesus stood up from the table. He took off His outer robe and wrapped a towel around His waist. Taking the role of a servant, Jesus took a basin of water and began to wash the disciples’ feet. The disciples were stunned. What Jesus was doing wasn’t just the job of a servant or slave, but the responsibility of a Gentile slave! And here was their teacher and Lord humbling Himself to wash their feet.
Not knowing how to respond, Peter resisted saying, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus responded, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me” (John 13:8). Talk about a strong response. There’s no use arguing when Jesus, the Savior of the world who will reign forever and ever at the right hand of God the Father, humbles Himself to the level of a servant and washes the dirty, grimy feet of His beloved disciples. In reality, Jesus is the ONLY person whose importance in this universe is so mighty that He could easily have skipped this gesture of love, and yet He chose not to.
Jesus demonstrated true greatness by serving others. What about you? Do you have a servant’s heart? How are you doing when it comes to living like Jesus?